HOYLAKE, England — South Korea's So Yeon Ryu took a share of the lead in her Women's British Open debut, birdieing the final hole for 2-under 70 at Royal Liverpool on Thursday.
In relatively calm weather, South Korea's Haeji Kang also opened with 70, the highest leading score in the first round since the tournament became a major in 2002.
Ryu, 22, the 2011 U.S. Women's Open champion and winner of last month's Jamie Farr Toledo Classic, had five birdies and two bogeys. She won the Korean LPGA's Hanwha Finance Classic last week.
"This is my first time (playing) in England, so I never played this type of golf course," Ryu said. "It's really tough but fun. … Actually, Tuesday and Wednesday was so bad, so (Thursday) feels like a really great weather."
Kang had six birdies, two bogeys and a double bogey.
"I hit it pretty good out there," said Kang, winless on the LPGA Tour. "My iron shots were just inside 20 feet all the time, so I could just putt it out."
Karrie Webb, the tournament winner in 1995, 1997 and 2002, was a stroke back along with 16-year-old English amateur Charley Hull, Jiyai Shin, Ai Miyazato, Mika Miyazato, Stacey Keating, Lydia Hall, Vicky Hurst and Kate Kutcher.
Seminole's Brittany Lincicome and Tampa's Cindy LaCrosse were 1 over. Said Lincicome on Twitter, "I will take that score for the next 3 days and be sitting pretty nice."
Tampa resident Kristy McPherson was 5 over.
Two-time defending champion Yani Tseng opened with 72. "I feel pretty good, first day of the tournament," she said. "I feel like I'm hitting so many good shots out there, making some good putts to save the par, and I'm very happy. … It's a four day tournament, just have to be patient on this tough golf course. … But I don't think you want to try too hard out there, because the harder you try, the worse you get."
New Zealand's Lydia Ko, a 15-year-old amateur coming off a victory three weeks ago in the Canadian Women's Open, also shot 72.